The authors ascribe "Active History" to their form of story telling. I think this book does an excellent job in re-telling the Gettyburg story and "what if?" They stick to the facts for most of the early part of the novel and enlighten us all on the problems of command without the advantages of good maps and tele/radio communications. Further, we learn about the massive logistical requirements of an Army in 1863. I believe this novel's outcome to be very plausible.
My only complaint is modest. I can believe Gen. Lee might be swayed to change his mind, but the authors also ask us to believe Gen. Longstreet, now that Jackson is dead, will force march like he has never done before. Maybe he would. However, the final battle takes place because Gen. Meade is neither able to control the Army of the Potomac nor receive Lincoln’s message to avoid the destruction of that army. We are pushing too many “what ifs” for my comfort. These seem to me to contradict the author's "Active History" philosophy.
These merely multiply in the second and third books of the trilogy.
But it’s a great read regardless.
Not a fan of his but he writes one helluva book. It is just a really good book and I don't think I have any negatives except that the third book needs to be out faster...
Full disclosure- I am a military history buff and I have read many of the what if's of Gettysburg plus numerous hard cover books on the Civil War (I tend to listen to fiction on audible). With Newt Gingrich as author, and my distaste for him (he irritates me) and his politics (which I find distasteful) I ALMOST did not purchase this and listen.
This would have been a huge mistake. It is well done- and having toured the battlefield (as part of a staff ride for two days) and read at least 2 dozen books on the campaign and at least three or four what-if books- I found this book compelling. It is a little Lee worshipful (over the top) but if one overlooks this - the players in the book behave within expected and historical boundaries (Meade is a plodder and works by consensus- whilst Lee, who was incapacitated to some degree to an intestinal disorder, probably mild dystentery during the actual campaign) act within these bounds. Lee, as he did at Chancellorsville and Second Mannassas takes charge and leads from the front.
Stuart is recalled early (plausibly) whilst Lee executes his ideal of a flanking march within the operational theater. I could follow all of the movements in my head (having walked the battlefield twice over a six day period) an even knew where Big Pipe Creek was (and Longstreets thinking regarding such). However a non expert would have problem following this- and someone not versed in civil war military history (and this campaign) might find it tedious and confusion.
Other than the undeserved hagiography of Lee (a construct of the post civil war) this is a flawless exercise in fictional history.
One may agree with or totally hate Newt Gingrich on political issues but is has to be admitted that he is a well informed historian, especially with regard to the Civil War. This novel dramatizes a commonly asked "why" and "what-if" question about Lee's behavior at Gettysburg
and follows up with what might have happened if he had decided differently.
Best if you know something of the Civil War and Gettysburg in particular but OK even if you do not. Well written, well performed, and entertaining. If you are a fan of either Civil War history or alternative history novels and are a liberal, don't let your dislike of Gingrich interfere with enjoying a good book!
I have now listened to the second book in the trilogy (as good if not better) and am starting the third. I also plan to buy the freestanding book about the Battle of the Crater.
I think so based on the Valley Forge novel, but not based on this one.
It was an endless series of detailed descriptions of battles, one battle described pretty much like the rest.
tedious tedious. and I can usually stick through most things (including history). but this just never got going for me. I think if perhaps I was already a history buff on the civil war, I might have enjoyed it more. But as a story on it's own, I could not get interested. I gave up after about 4 hours.
The "alternate history" of Gettysburg seems more believable than the real history. For those who have studied the Civil War, Lee's actions at the battle have always seemed inexplicable. This book creates a scenario that is remarkably plausible, fresh and suspenseful. I expected an interesting plot, but did not expect the high quality of the wiritng. Well drawn characters, believable and exciting battle scenes, good pacing, lots of suspense and just enough detail to put the reader firmly into the scene.
I also appreciated the avoidance of cliches, and the accurate depictions of motivations on both sides of the North/South divide. Letters and diaries of the time make it clear that slavery was not a primary issue for the vast majority of men who fought and died. It may or may not have been for the politicians back home, but not for the rank and file of the armies. Gingrich and Forstchen thankfully avoid making this book into a political commentary, but when motivation is mentioned, they accurately depict the attitudes of the brave men of both sides. Want to know why they fought? Listen to this book.
The narration is terrific. Tom shows a good variety of voices, and his southern accents are very authentic. Having lived all of my life (born 1953) in the south, and in a variety of locations within the south, I appreciated the differences in accent and pronunciation that Tom brought to his various characters. He also conveys the emotions and feelings of the characters brilliantly. You can hear the fatigue in the voices of characters who have marched 21 miles and must then swing into battle, the terror of those about to die, and the utter disgust at the madness of it all from those who have survived.
If you like war stories, the civil war, or the alternate history genre, this book is a MUST listen.
I think the authors did a great job of re-writing history but keeping the authenticity of these great histroical men. Would love to see their thoughts of what happens after the retreat to Harrisburg.
My dad used to say to us when my 3 brothers and I were growing up, 'What do they teach you in school? I can't believe you don't know your US history'! Well, he was right! I learned so much from this book and loved it! The story was so engaging, the narration spot on and I literally cried at the end. So very good! You will do yourself and your noggin a favor by listening, enjoying and enriching yourself!
Definitely one of my favorite books about the Civil War. It's main premise is a historical point of departure. However, it's analysis of what DID happen and of what WOULD likely happen with one change of decision is masterful. It's a great read and great history.